Archos raises its game: GamePad 2 handheld console confirmed

The second generation of the Archos GamePad includes hardware game controls and doubles as an Android tablet
The £179 Archos Gamepad 2 boast a 7inch screen and dual joypads

We saw the leaks, and now we've had confirmation: Archos is serious about Android gaming.

The £179  GamePad 2 features a 1.6GHz quad-core CPU, a 7" IPS HD screen at 1280x800 and special versions of Gameloft titles to make full use of its hardware - along with some neat software so you can 'teach' it how to play games designed for a touchscreen.

Jelly Bean fun and games

The £179 Archos Gamepad 2
The software can map touchscreen controls to its hardware joypads
The second-generation GamePad has been slimmed down considerably

While we are still waiting for the first glimpse of Apple's rumoured gamepad controller addons for the iPhone, Archos has boosted Android gaming with a new handheld.

It might look uncannily like a PS Vita, but the Archos doubles as a fully featured Android tablet.

"Following the success of the GamePad 1, we knew that we could take the gaming-tablet concept further," said Loic Poirier of Archos.

"With our GamePad 2 we have included an HD screen, better controls, a larger battery and a faster processor."

It comes preinstalled with complete versions of Asphalt 8: Airborne and Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour.

There are curved dual thumb-sticks, double buttons on each shoulder, a single part directional pad and a vastly improved button click-feeling for a better physical gaming experience, the firms says.

There’s also a neat bit of software called the Game Mapping Tool that lets you program the buttons to replicate touchscreen controls. The firm also built its own alternative app store, the Game Zone, to show off the best games in Google’s Play Store.

"With a tablet that's as innovative as the ARCHOS GamePad 2, it was an easy decision to optimise our games for the platform," said Cyril Guilleminot, Gameloft Director for France & Benelux. "Users will be able to take part in a brand new gaming experience with its integrated physical control system."

There are 8GB and 16GB versions, both with a microSD slot, and the gadget is preloaded with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.